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Weekly Fishing Report - 26th March 2020

Moderating Winds And A Few Showers On The Way

Social distancing on the wide blue yonder was certainly popular last weekend during that all too brief spell of light winds. Overflowing boat ramp trailer parks are the norm nowadays whenever we get the glamour weather on a weekend.

Looking ahead, the southeast wind is moderating to within a range of mostly 10-15 knots, with a little more out wide or offshore at times. A few light showers are likely, with the possibility of thunderstorms over the coming weekend.

The tides too are moderating, as we approach a period of neaps around the quarter moon on April Fool’s Day.

COVID-19 Impacting On Our Fishing Options

This insidious disease might have a much greater impact on our lifestyles than we first thought. Temporary closure of businesses such as Fisho’s Tackle World might ensue, depending upon the directives from our governing bodies and the health officials that are advising them.

At this stage, we are certainly still open and are doing everything possible to maintain the status-quo. Rigorous cleaning regimes ensure the safest environment we can provide and we are also offering home delivery or pick up services as advertised on our social media platforms.

Going fishing and getting away from the populace still seems a great option for anyone looking to reduce their human contact. However, it is becoming somewhat perplexing when trying to determine whether or not such activities will be allowed or restricted under the daily tightening measures required to control the spread of this pox.

At the time of writing, there have been no restrictions placed on boating or fishing activities locally, with the exception of the major closures listed below:

  • All Fraser Island camping grounds and resorts are closed. No camping permits will be issued for the island. Barge services have been cancelled, apart from essential services.
  • Lake Awoonga is closed to all boating and camping. The gates will be locked as of 3pm today.
  • All impoundments administered by SEQ Water are closed as of today. No access allowed in any form.
  • Lake Lenthalls remains open as of time of writing, however, Wide Bay Water are meeting today to determine their actions, so expect them to align with other authorities and close this lake.
  • Lake Monduran and its caravan park are open at time of writing, however, Sunwater is meeting today and may close the lake.
  • Sunwater has closed camp grounds at Burdekin Falls, Eungella and Wuruma dams. Many other lakes come under their jurisdiction and are likely to have restrictions applied.
  • Burrum Heads Easter Family Fishing Classic and Hervey Bay Family Fishing Classic have been cancelled

So, there go many local fisho’s "bug out" and self-isolation plans. Until further notice, it would seem that all lakes are likely to be closed to all access (including day trips). This news is substantially more frustrating when we hear just how well Monduran is fishing right now and consider how good the next couple of months can be.

Disappearing up the island and camping in a creek or along Fraser’s magnificent western beach is no longer a possibility either. Devastating!

We all take our given rights to fish and enjoy the outdoors for granted and will find it hard to come to terms with further restrictions should they be deemed necessary. The very thought of not being able to launch the boat and get out on the water would be a hard pill to swallow but is not entirely impossible in these times.

Here’s hoping it never comes to that, but should that disastrous situation ever develop then we would hope that all fisho’s would adhere to the rules in the interests of community safety. After all, drastic actions may be required to allow us to get past this disaster in a timely manner so that we can return to normal (or the future version of normal).

Of course, should a frustrated fisho be stranded indoors then the following activities might help pass the time:

  • Sort out all the tackle maintenance you have been putting off and give rods and reels a proper clean.
  • Service reels if you have the knowhow. Make sure you have the right grease/oil and spare parts first, or see us if you need them.
  • Sort your lures and replace rusty or weak trebles and rings with new or stronger versions.
  • Sort your tackle storage. Clean out tackle boxes and throw out rusty hooks/swivels.
  • Repair holes in cast nets. Youtube might offer some How-To’s if you are unsure. Grab some proper thread and a net needle from us before you start though.
  • Check wheel bearings on boat trailer and replace if necessary.
  • Check all other boat trailer fittings and replace if necessary.
  • Attend to all those little boat/motor maintenance issues that need attention.
  • Respool reels that need new line in readiness for the coming reef/snapper season.
  • Pre-prepare rigs for reef fishing, game season etc.
  • Subscribe to Fish Flicks.

Anyway, enough about all this virus stuff and the shake-up to our way of life. A fisherman’s hands were never meant to smell like hand sanitiser, so here’s the latest fishing report …..

Sharks Taking Their Toll Out Wide

The dark of the moon period lived up to its reputation as being the worst time for sharks on our wide grounds and many crews struggled to get quality fish to the surface. Those that sought out country that others have yet to find likely fared much better, but the Gutters and the reefs around Rooneys were heavily taxed.

Good fish were on the chew in many areas, whereas some grounds were quiet. Some of the country up that way won’t fish well till the bait schools and hordes of juvenile demersals move in with cooler water temperatures, whilst other grounds spring to life when crabs, prawns or scallops kick off the food chain.

Crews that moved about when the sharks arrived ended up with a mixed bag of trout, grass sweetlip, scarlets, parrot, maori cod and estuary cod. Trophy fish were challenging to land of course, unless you consider a large trevally a trophy, as the noahs seem to favour the better-quality reef fish just like we do.

Mackerel proved a bit frustrating for those chasing reefies on livies or tea-bagged plastics and jigs. Big school mackerel were seemingly everywhere and spaniards were abundant in some spots. If you enjoy a feed of mackerel then now is a great time to venture up to the reefs in the northern bay as you will score well if you target them. High speed vertical spinning is a fantastic technique for schoolies and spanish if you don’t have livies or aren’t keen on trolling.

Tuna Prolific In Central And Western Bay

Vast schools of mack and longtail tuna can be found throughout the western and central bay. Anywhere from a few miles out from the Burrum to the Gutters you will find birds wheeling above tuna schools thrashing the surface to foam. Small metal slugs have continued to score well for those chasing mack tuna, whilst the longtail have favoured a mix of stick baits, 5" jerkshads and silicone flies (for the fluff chuckers).

There have been a few schools of tuna in Platypus Bay as well and whilst the numbers may have been stronger further west a week ago, the few days of strong southeaster early this week should see numbers improve to the east.

Queenfish have been turning up around the odd bait ball in the eastern and southern bay and have been suckers for a range of plastics and stickbaits. Golden trevally are still showing up around bait schools inshore and up the island, though watch out for the sharks as they can hang around with them quite often. Softies and micro jigs will tempt the goldies in the deeper waters and vibes are quite productive in depths to about 20 metres.

Tasty Feed Of Reefies Inshore

Many a local fisho would be enjoying a meal or two of fresh reef fish from our local inshore waters this week. Grass sweetlip are quite abundant and reasonably easy to catch around the fringes of many of our inshore reefs, so long as the sharks don’t track you down.

Trout and cod favoured tea-bagged plastics or live baits close to reef structure over the turn of tide, but your timing and anchoring (if using bait) needs to be spot-on during the bigger tide phases to stand any chance with these guys. They might tend to roam a little more over the neaps but will still be within a quick dash of cover at any time. Locked drags and good reflexes will account for the better models, but there are still some unstoppables out there.

Night sessions inshore are very productive this time of year. Squire and better quality knobbies will become increasingly common as our waters cool heading into winter. There will be a few around now, but more common catches after dark will include grass sweetlip, blackall, estuary cod and the odd scarlet.

Best Prawning Down The Straits

A few prawners have struggled to bring home a feed from some local creek systems whilst others doing the miles down the straits have scored well. It seems that, as for the time being at least, the best prawning on offer is south of the Sheridan Flats. This has been the case for weeks, courtesy of the substantially increased falls of rain in the southern half of the straits compared with the northern sector.

The winds picked up right on the new moon so until we get some feedback or get out there ourselves, we will be left wondering whether the local creek scene has improved since the passing of the moon. Timing can be everything when the prawn is fickle, so you can either standby for future updates or get out there yourself and (hopefully) score a fresh feed of succulent banana prawn.

Estuaries Cooling But Summer Species Still Active

Make the most of what time you have in our estuaries this time of year if you like your summer species. Some of the very best jack fishing is on offer at this time as they put on some bulk in readiness for the cooler months. Try the Burrum system or the many creeks down the straits for a crack at a jack and don’t be surprised at a bit of bycatch in the form of jew, barra, grunter, flathead and of course, cod.

Barra will slow down a bit soon but for now will be quite active. The creeks down the straits are a good option for those that know their way around down there. Grunter are quite a bit easier to find in those creeks and in the channels that feed those very creeks.

Threadfin salmon can be found in the lower reaches of the Susan and Mary rivers and within many of the creeks down the straits. They can be easily spotted at times when they are tearing into baitfish or prawn up in the shallow verges and drains, though this will be mostly during the lower stages of the tide.

Flatties are most prolific in winter and spring in these parts, but are turning up a bit of late. Like all estuary predators, the flatties will be reacting to the abundance of baitfish and small prawns in the shallows courtesy of recent rains. Look for them around drains and feeder creek mouths, but expect to find them well upstream as the creek’s water salinity improves. There have even been a few flatties picked up along local beaches of late, suggesting the local creeks will be worth a crack.

Good luck out there y’all.

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